150 years of faith

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 6:22 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - On a rural country road in Seward County, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church still stands tall, as the congregation celebrates a 150-year milestone.

“I always tell people, when I give directions out to the church, just look for the steeple, and you can’t get lost,” Pastor Shawn Kitzing said. “Any direction you come from Seward, Gresham, the Utica area or Tamora, all you have to do is look up and you’ll see this steeple. It’s a gorgeous site that leads you into this little area out here that we call Marysville.”

The church was once part of the beginnings of a small town. “It was called the Marysville Church, and it’s on Marysville Road,” church member Paul Duer said. “There was a town of Marysville that was getting started, and an old mill on the river. The church sits by the Lincoln Creek.” The town did not survive, but the church did. “This year is the 150th anniversary of the congregation, so 1870 was the start of the congregation, and this church is a merger of Immanuel Lutheran and Marysville Lutheran Church,” Duer said.

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church was built in 1917 at a cost of $34,000. It only took six months for the congregation to pay it all off. “You know it’s just amazing, at that time, to build a structure like this. You have the brickwork on the outside, the stained glass windows,” Duer said. “When I visited here before I became the pastor, you could really tell the congregation takes great pride in it,” Kitzing said. “They tell stories about the stained glass windows, and the fact that the chandelier up on top, they actually crank it down to change the light bulbs.”

Many lives have been touched by the church. “I went to school out there,” Clelland Tonniges said. “The school was right north of the church at that time, and several of us went there. We are pretty proud of it.”

The school which is connected to the church is now in Staplehurst. And the congregation is excited about a ground-breaking for a new school ministry center. “It’s going to have classrooms, offices, a chapel area, a kitchen, and a commons area,” school principal Harlan Anson said. The plan is to have classes in the new school in 2021. “The second phase will be a brand new gymnasium that we’ll be able to build on. We can have basketball games, luncheons, all kinds of things that we can host and be a part of, not only for the school, but for the community as well,” Anson said.

While the school continues to build a bright future, the church congregation is thrilled to be celebrating 150 years of faith.

“We’ve had the opportunity in the last two years to baptize at least six different children that started in our day school,” Kitzing said. “Those kids have now become members out here.”

Church members hope the doors to this church will continue to stay open, and the message here will touch lives for many years to come. “Every Sunday at 9 o’clock is our service out here and it’s a beautiful facility that is our worship center,” Duer said.

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